With the college football season past the halfway mark and the NFL season close to the midway point, here's some early thoughts on what my version of a Pats draft might look like. Of course, what BB will do is always a total mystery the morning of the draft much less 6 months in advance, but I thought this was worth doing more to throw out some names to keep an eye on than for any other reason. Right now I'm assuming a lot of juniors will declare because of uncertainty about a 2011 rookie salary scale, so I'm not counting anyone out, especially since this is largely an exercise to bring certain players to people's attention as potential prospects. Needs: 1. LB. The weak area of the defense right now, specially DE/OLB pass rushers. ILB looks better with Mayo/Guyton and McKenzie returning from IR. Adalius Thomas can play both OLB and SILB if he remains with the team beyond this year. Ideally, I see us continuing to play both 3-4 as a base defense with lots of 4-3 sets mixed in, so guys with positional versatility will be especially valuable. I can see our defense becoming potentially dominant in 2010-2011 with a better pass rush and one or two additional playmakers. 2. OL. The interior line is particularly vulnerable, with both Logan Mankins' and Stephen Neal's contracts expiring. At OT Vollmer/Kaczur/Levoir are signed for a bit, but the long term status of Matt Light remains unclear. 3. RB. Faulk is a FA after 2009. Maroney, Morris and Taylor are FAs after 2010, and Morris and Taylor are aging and coming off of injuries. Youth and depth at the position would be useful. 4. DL. Depth on the DL is always useful. Jarvis Green is a FA and make be gone after this year. I assume Vince Wilfork will be franchised or extended. Warren, Wilfork, Wright, Brace and Pryor are a strong nucleus, but there is room for at least one more DE, especially someone with athleticism to play the 5 position. 5. WR. Depending on how Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman develop, depth at WR after Moss and Welker is desirable. An eventual #1 successor to Randy Moss is always worth looking at, though I see more options in 2011. 6. P. I still think we can do much better than Chris Hanson. With those needs in mind, I am assuming that we will be picking around 32, 36 (from Tennessee), 42 (from Jacksonville), 64, 128 and 160 and 192, with no 3rd round pick (due to the Derrick Burgess trade) and no 7th round pick. Realistically I can't see us picking much earlier than 28th, so why not be optimistic and assume we will win it all? I don't see us getting anything significant in the way of comp picks this year. Since this is an exercise to largely bring up prospects of interest rather than to predict what we actually might do, I've listed a bunch of altneratives. So, without further ado ... Possible Picks 1(32). Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama (junior). 6'4", 254#, 4.70. There's a better than 50% chance he won't last this far, but if he does he would be hard to pass up, even though I see pass rushers as a greater need than ILBs. Ideal SILB complement to Mayo in the 3-4 and SAM backer in the 4-3 for us. I think he's separated himself from LBs Brandon Spikes and Eric Norwood at this point. Alternatives if he's not available would include those guys (though I don't think either would be my pick in the 1st round) or a pass rusher (see below). OT Bruce Campbell from Maryland would be a steal if he lasted this long, but I expect him go to top 15. A 3-4 DE could also be a late 1st round option if the right one were available. LB Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri is a fine player with good size (6'2" 247#) and pursuit, but with the emergence of Gary Guyton and the return of Tyrone McKenzie I don't see going after that style of player. 2(36). Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB, USF (junior). 6'6" 265#, 4.60. A physical freak with an 81" wingspan and terrific athleticism, reminiscent of a young Javon Kearse. A bit raw but tremendous upside. Junior JUCO transfer who may not declare. I've listed Pierre-Paul because of his upside, but equally reasonable alternatives would include DEs Derrick Morgan, Everson Griffen and Greg Hardy, all of whom could go 1st round or slip to the early 2nd round, so if you prefer one of those guys feel free to substitute. I think all 4 guys have the athleticism to play 3-4 OLB in our system as well as 4-3 DE. I see these guys as preferable to smaller, quicker speed rushers like Jerry Hughes, Sergio Kindle, Ricky Sapp, Jeremy Beals, Jason Worilds, George Selvie, Lindsey Witten and O'Brien Schofield in our system (due to their ability to play 4-3 DE and their better ability to set the edge), but those guys could also get consideration. There's a lot of them. Von Miller from Texas A&M has great speed and is a James Harrison kind of guy, but at 6'2" 240# is too small for us. 2(42). Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho (senior). 6'6" 330#, 5.20. A Samoan mammoth who moves incredibly well for his size. Would do wonders for our running game and interior pass protection. Junior C/G Maurkice Pouncey from Florida would also get serious consideration here if he declares. Those are the only 2 interior linemen I would consider this high. A bunch on good interior linemen should also be available later on if we went in a different direction here, including guys like Mike Johnson from Alabama, Jon Asamaoh from Illinois, and Vladimir Ducasse from UMass. A running back like Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech (6'1", 230#) could get consideration here if he fell. 2(64). Lawrence Marsh, DE/DT, Florida (junior). 6'5" 305#, 4.95. Extremely athletic junior who has battled injuries this year and is flying under the radar in a class very deep at the position. Adrian Clayborn from Iowa could also be an option here. Senior Corey Wootton from Northwestern (6'7", 280#) came into 2009 as a projected 1st round pick but hasn't regained his junior form after an injury in a bowl game last year. He could slip as well, and would be worth considering if he was projected to make a full recovery, but comes with more risk. *3(65). Ryan Matthews, RB, Fresno St. (junior). 5'11" 220#, 4.50. Tough aggressive rougher, a bit reminiscent of Rashard Mendenhall. I could see an RB like Matthews or Jonathan Dwyer (who would likely go late 1st/early 2nd round and could deserve serious consideration with one of our earlier picks) being an option. Yes, I know we don't have a pick here right now, but this could be an alternative to DE in the late 2nd round, so I listed it anyway. I could also see us trying to trade up if he slips to the 3rd round, which could easily happen (the way the Jets traded up to get Shonn Green last year), so I listed this here just to get him on people's radar. I'm sure Pat Hill will make sure Matthews doesn't go unnoticed by BB. Would be a nice complement to Maroney and BJGE. 4(128). Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin (junior). 6'7", 320#, 5.30. This could be anything, but I could see us drafting an OT for depth around this point in the draft. Seniors Sam Young (Notre Dame), Adam Ulatowski (Texas), and Kyle Calloway (Iowa) would all get consideration if available, though all may go sooner. Calloway or Carimi would be my preferred candidates at this point, if they were somehow available. Jeff Linkenbach from Cincinnati might be worth a look, but I haven't seen enough of him to tell. 5(160). Best available WR prospect. Possibly someone like junior Vidal Hazelton from Cincinnati (6'2", 200#), if he comes out. Anyone's guess. I've heard Mardy Gilyard projected anywhere from the 1st round to the 5th. He would be a nice option as well, but I'm assuming he goes earlier. 6(192). Best available P. I don't know much about this year's class. 6'5" Zoltan Mesko from Michigan is generally rated the top prospect, but I'm not sure if there are any standouts.